The Girona Pyrenees, an accessible destination

A panoramic view of the artificial lake of Puigcerdà. In the blue waters of the lake, the trees and the mountains surrounding the town are reflected. Image by Pep Callís.

The Girona Pyrenees are a totally advisable destination for people in wheelchair or with reduced mobility. It is not us who say that, but Daphnée CagnaneArmelle Maignan and Marie Vampouillethree French bloggers in wheelchair that work for accessibility. At the beginning of March, they had the opportunity to spend six days in the inland area of the Costa Brava. They were accompanied by Stéphanie Xeuxet, managing director of the association Action Handicap France, an organisation that works to raise awareness, training and diagnosis related to accessibility.

The objective: to carry out promotion and diffusion campaigns of the inclusive tourism offer in the locations of the inland area of the Costa Brava and the Girona Pyrenees in order to explain to the French market that this area is open all year round. The result: extraordinary.

Girona, an accessible city

The experience began with a visit to the Old Town of Girona, “an easy city in a wheelchair”, according to Daphnée, who confesses that she was pleasantly surprised. She says that “she did not find any major obstacles, except in some particular establishments or in some historical places with steps, which are insurmountable for a wheelchair”.

A panoramic view of Girona's Old Town. Between the roofs of the houses, the bell tower of the Collegiate Church ofSant Feliu and the cathedral stand out. Image by Oscar Vall.
A panoramic view of Girona’s Old Town. Between the roofs of the houses, the bell tower of the Collegiate Church ofSant Feliu and the cathedral stand out. Image by Oscar Vall.

Active tourism

In La Garrotxa, the travellers made a five-kilometre stretch of the Ruta del Carrilet as it passed through Les Preses. They did so on adapted bicycles offered by the Atma agency. As they explain, the experience was marked by the tranquillity, the volcanic landscape and the modernist architecture of Olot. The itinerary of the trip continued to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Núriaaccessible to people in wheelchairs thanks to an electric lift, and to Puigcerdà, where they enjoyed the historic centre, the artificial lake and the surrounding mountains.

But, beyond the beauty of the landscape, one of the experiences that most impressed all the participants was the adapted skiing activity at La Molina, by the professionals of Play and Train. Marie had never skied before and she describes the experience as “unforgettable”. Daphnée, who has written an article on her blog about the experience, described it as “absolutely brilliant”. For her part, Stéphanie highlights the work of Play and Train as an example of good practice.

In daylight, in a snowy landscape, Daphnée, Armelle and Marie, sitting on ski chairs, greet the camera. Behind each of them are their respective support monitors, who wave with a smile. Image by Diego Espada.
In daylight, in a snowy landscape, Daphnée, Armelle and Marie, sitting on ski chairs, greet the camera. Behind each of them are their respective support monitors, who wave with a smile. Image by Diego Espada.

Health and wellness

The group also held a visual yoga session at the Centre Cenit in Fontanals de Cerdanya. They also visited the Monastery of Sant Joan de les Abadesses and the museum, both of which are largely accessible, and tasted the products of the MUUU BEEE cheese factory, a social project of the MAP Foundation. The visit to Girona ended with a meditation session in a lake dwelling on the Banyoles lake.

The Costa Brava Girona Tourist Board was in charge of organising the event and counted on various local tourism organisations’ collaboration, such as those of Girona and Banyoles, and regional ones, such as Turisme GarrotxaRipollès DesenvolupamentTurisme Cerdanya and the Agència Catalana de Turisme.

Conclusions

After the experience, the travelers’ impression is very positive. In fact, all four agree that they will recommend the destination to people with disabilities or mobility problems. Armelle says that “there is a real desire to make it accessible“. She adds that “there are many inclusive activities” and stresses that, when something is missing, “the staff is always willing to help and look for a solution“. Marie comments that during her visit she had “a feeling of freedom and ease of movement“. Stéphanie welcomes the fact that there are “many accessible structures” and adds that “the region is very interesting to visit because of the large number of activities and the quality of the accommodation“. Daphnée concludes that it was “a tourist, gastronomic and human adventure“, and ends by saying “it was a real pleasure”.

If you would like to know more details about her visit to the Girona Pyrenees and her impressions, you can take a look at the articles in their respective blogs in French: